Funding will create pipeline into teaching
A dramatic transformation in demographics has occurred at College of the Canyons in Santa Clarita during the past 40 years. During that time, the campus, like the community itself, has changed from an almost entirely Caucasian student population to one that is about 40 percent Latino.
"The instructors who were hired for faculty positions back in the 1970s and ’80s are at the end of their careers. It led us to think about where the new faculty will come from,” said Vince Devlahovich, president of the College of the Canyons Faculty Association and a geology instructor on campus.
Great Public Schools fund
Concerned by an absence of faculty diversity, the College of the Canyons Faculty Association, joined by the CSU Northridge, applied for and received a three-year $450,000 grant from the National Education Association’s Great Public Schools Fund. Beginning this fall, the chapter will use the funding to spearhead a union-led program to create a pipeline for underrepresented minorities to become teachers.
Devlahovich plans to draw a diverse group of low-income high school, community college and university students and provide them with opportunities to learn about the teaching field. The focus of the program will be on social science, Chicano studies and English in schools, community after-school programs and at the colleges. At the same time, the program hopes to change the community’s perception of unions. Devlahovich has already reached out to a local high school to partner with in developing a Latino student club. From there, the hope is to find 10-15 students who would be willing to commit to a career path.
Learn about teaching
“One of the problems with current credential programs is that students are learning about their subject area, but not about teaching. I think classroom management is the most important thing they can learn because if you can’t get a student to pay attention, you can’t even get in the door,” Devlahovich said. “That’s probably the biggest reason why 50 percent of teachers leave the profession in the first five years.”
Students entering the “teacher pipeline” program will also be able to save thousands of dollars by taking some of their courses at College of the Canyons, before transferring to a four-year college and then committing to a teacher-credential program. In addition, the program will include outreach to parents to get them involved so they can help and support their students.
The College of the Canyons program is similar to one at California State University, Northridge, where CTA’s Institute for Teaching helped fund a project-based initiative between the college’s Chicana/o Studies faculty and Student CTA to introduce university students to the world of teaching.
Similar program at CSUN
“The ‘World of Teaching’ grant supported a student’s commitment to social science teaching and learning in diverse and low-income communities,” said Theresa Montaño, CTA Board member representing higher education.
A second grant, the ITaB program will build upon the World of Teaching initiative to design lesson plans, media projects, and more. Through direct service learning, CSUN students will implement their work at a local high school, the Cesar Chavez Teacher Preparation Academy. The ITaB students will also continue working with middle school students at MENDS, an after-school organization. Another component of the program, Parent Pioneers, supports the leadership development of parents in the San Fernando Valley.
“As our student population changes, it is important they see teachers in the classrooms like themselves,” Montaño said, “and as educators, it’s important that we, ourselves, promote teaching. These programs attempt to do both.”